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Our List of Essential Medicines Expanded to 376. Drugs for Cancer, HIV/AIDS & More Get Affordable.


With the view bringing down the cost of medicines for diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C, the government has revised the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), adding those drugs to the list.

This is the third time that the list has been updated after it was compiled in 1996. Medicines that cater to the priority health care needs of a population are categorised as essential medicines and the list is based on a country’s health and affordability concerns, and the commonly used medicines at primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare levels.

The medicines in NLEM should be available at affordable costs and with assured quality.


Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr

“The NLEM 2015 has been prepared adhering to the basic principles of efficacy, safety, cost-effectiveness; consideration of diseases as public health problems in India,” said a notice on the website of Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

After the revision, 106 medicines were added while 70 were deleted from the list, which initially had 348 medicines. There are a total of 376 medicines now, including analgesics, antivirals, contraceptives, cardiovascular and anti-tuberculosis drugs.

Earlier, the government had faced a lot of criticism because the list did not include many life-saving drugs. In May last year, a core committee of experts was formed to work on the revision of the list. Organizations from the pharmaceutical industry and different NGOs also contributed with their suggestions for the revision. The committee has recommended that the list should be revised every three years. The new list, which is effective immediately, is in line with World Health Organisation’s 2015 list of essential drugs.

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